A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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Hardwick is a small and compact parish of 1,438 a. situated about 5 miles west of Cambridge and having as its northern boundary the main road from that city to St. Neots (Hunts.). To the east and west it shares regular and almost parallel boundaries with Comberton and Caldecote respectively. The symmetry of the parish is interrupted by the irregular boundary with Toft to the south. Together the two parishes form a tidy rectangle and they probably formed one unit until the 11th century. (fn. 1) The boundary was not decided finally until Toft was inclosed in 1815, when a strip of land known as Intercommon furlong was divided between the two parishes. (fn. 2) The tongue of woodland known as Hardwick wood projects between Toft and Caldecote. The parish lies across a ridge which rises in the north to more than 200 ft. above sea-level and falls to less than 125 ft. in the south. Drainage is to the north, east, and south, and the valleys of the streams give a rolling landscape. The underlying strata are gault and boulder clay, and from the unyielding qualities of the heavy soil Layer derived the origin of the name Hardwick. (fn. 3) Agriculture has been the principal occupation of the inhabitants, though the infertility of the land may be the origin of the epithet 'Hungry Hardwick'. (fn. 4)
By 1836, at the time of inclosure, the village lay almost at the geographical centre of the parish, about ½ mile south of the main road, encircled by the three open fields, Wood field, Brook field, and Comberton field. Most of the houses were sited round a central green, which was bisected at inclosure by a new road linking the village with the main road and continuing south to Toft. (fn. 5) Until then there had been no made road to the village. (fn. 6) The Port way, which traverses the parish from west to east, (fn. 7) may at one time have been more important than the way north, though it has come to be no more than a bridleway.
Poor communications hampered development. In 1836 the curate, describing Hardwick as 'a very poor place and the people very ignorant', attributed its condition to the fact that the village was almost inaccessible in wet weather. (fn. 8) Inclosure resulted in a considerable improvement in communications and in the general economic condition of the parish.
The population doubled between 1831 and 1841. The increase was attributed to 'the parish having been inclosed and several new cottages built'. (fn. 9) Being still completely dependent upon farming, Hardwick declined in size during the agricultural depression of the late 19th century, which was particularly severe on the clay lands. By 1901 the parish was scarcely more populous than it had been 70 years earlier. (fn. 10)
Apart from a few outlying farm-houses, established after inclosure, the settlement pattern remained the same until the 1930s. The new houses then built in Hardwick were significantly situated not in the old village, but in the north-west corner of the parish along the main road, west of Hardwick Turn. They also extended south around the 19th-century building known as Hardwick Hall, afterwards demolished. The new settlement included a wooden village hall. (fn. 11) In 1939 the parish council urged that a piped water supply be provided for the village because of the fire hazard. (fn. 12) Their anxiety may have been due to the fact that many of these new dwellings had been constructed of wood. After the Second World War more dwellings were built to the east of Hardwick Turn, (fn. 13) completing an almost continuous line of buildings along the main road.
There are few buildings in Hardwick dating from before the 19th century. Indeed there were only 10 dwelling-houses in the parish in 1831. (fn. 14) The Chequers, once a public house, is a timberframed and plastered house dating from the 16th or early 17th century. Old Victoria Farmhouse, similarly timber-framed and plastered, is also of 16th- or early-17th-century origin. (fn. 15)
Only 7 peasants and 4 servi were recorded at Hardwick in 1086. (fn. 16) In the 13th century there were c. 43 tenants. (fn. 17) In 1327 32 persons were assessed to the fifteenth. (fn. 18) The population subsequently fell so that in 1377 only 81 people paid the poll tax. (fn. 19) In 1563 there were only 14 families. (fn. 20) According to Layer there were c. 30 families in the early 17th century, (fn. 21) but only between 19 and 26 houses were assessed for the hearth tax under Charles II. (fn. 22) Vancouver found 33 families there c. 1793, (fn. 23) and there was a population of 158 in 1801. Thereafter it fell to 90 in 1831, but more than doubled to 202 by 1841. After reaching a peak of 248 in 1871 it fell again to 112 in 1901. There was a slight recovery after the First World War, but a great increase occurred between 1931 and 1951, when, as a result of the development which had taken place, the population stood at 471. In 1961 it was 460. (fn. 24)
Manor and Other Estates.
According to Ely tradition Hardwick was one of the estates given by Ealdorman Beorhtnoth to the priory in 991 as a burial offering in the event of his death in the forthcoming campaign against the invading Danes. (fn. 25) Ely's rights there were later confirmed by Edward the Confessor. (fn. 26) In 1066 the abbot of Ely held 3 hides, 1 virgate, and 22 acres in Hardwick. (fn. 27) Five sokemen of his held a further 1½ hide and 6 a. which in 1086 were included in Erchenger's fee and located in Toft. (fn. 28) Upon the creation of the see of Ely in 1109 HARDWICK was among the manors converted to the use of the bishop. It remained part of the episcopal estate until Bishop Heton exchanged it under compulsion with Elizabeth I in 1600. (fn. 29)
In 1610 James I granted the manor to George Salter and John Williams of London who appointed William Knight, rector of Little Gransden, as their agent. (fn. 30) Salter and Williams conveyed the manor to Knight in 1612. (fn. 31) Knight's son William sold it to Owen St. Pierre of London in 1627. (fn. 32) Three years later St. Pierre sold it to Nicholas Angier, (fn. 33) who in 1642 sold it to Edmund Mapletoft, rector of Hardwick, and John Tolly. Two years later Mapletoft resigned his share to Tolly. (fn. 34) In 1652 Tolly granted the manor to George Cony and John Tolly the younger. (fn. 35) Cony in his turn passed the whole manor to Dr. Franke and Mr. Sterne to be held for the use of Matthew Wren, bishop of Ely, then under confinement as a prominent supporter of Archbishop Laud. (fn. 36) After the Restoration Wren initiated the building of a new chapel at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and gave the manor of Hardwick as part of its endowment. Since then the manor has been held jointly by the master of Pembroke and two trustees of the chapel. (fn. 37) A medieval moated site at the south end of the village has been suggested as the site of the manor, (fn. 38) although there is no supporting documentary evidence. In 1356 there was said to be an empty space on which no house was built. (fn. 39) The manorial demesne of 232 a. in 1251 officially remained of that size until the late 15th century. It was farmed, however, to the customary tenants (fn. 40) and by the 17th century little more than 5 a. of land called Wood close and 12 a. of wood remained. Upon inclosure the lords of the manor received 27 a. which they still owned in 1939. (fn. 41)
Between 1166 and 1212 the bishop of Ely enfeoffed the nuns of Swaffham Bulbeck with ½ knight's fee in Hardwick and Comberton. (fn. 42) There is no record of that estate in extents of 1222 and 1251. (fn. 43) In 1279 the prioress held a messuage and 60 a. of the bishop in Hardwick which together with a number of lesser tenements answered for ½ knight's fee. (fn. 44) In 1379 Thomas Harding of Manningtree (Essex) and others were authorized to alienate 50 a. of land and 4s. rent in Hardwick and Toft in mortmain to the priory of Swaffham. (fn. 45) In 1536–7 the income from the priory lands in Hardwick and Toft, then occupied by John Hinde, was 43s. (fn. 46) In 1553 100 a. of the estate were sold to Sir Robert Chester. (fn. 47) In 1614–15 Roger Smith, son of Dr. John Smith, held over 50 a. of the same estate. (fn. 48) In 1628 he held of the manor of Hardwick a close called Jenkin's and c. 30 a. (fn. 49) which Samuel Vicars held in 1663. In 1669 Charles Mainwaring succeeded to the estate. It remained in the Mainwaring family until 1740 when Peter Whittet obtained it. (fn. 50) The Whittet estate appears to have been broken up at about the time of inclosure. William Whittet continued to own Jenkin's close but other lands were obtained by the Revd. Edward Serocold Pearce (later Pearce-Serocold). (fn. 51)
In 1212 Henry de Essex held ¼ fee of the bishop of Ely in Hardwick. (fn. 52) It may well have been the ¼ fee in Hardwick on which the bishop declined to pay scutage in 1171–2. (fn. 53) Henry de Essex held one carucate in 1222 in Hardwick for ¼ knight's fee, (fn. 54) and by 1251 had been succeeded by his son Alexander. (fn. 55) In 1279 Hugh of Eastcote held the 80 a. of that fee in Hardwick. (fn. 56) In 1316 Thomas of Elsworth died seised of the estate. (fn. 57) A George of Elsworth, son of John, was a landholder in Hardwick in 1374. (fn. 58) No record of the further descent of the estate has been found, but it may possibly be the same as the 80 a. which William son of John Adams held in 1628. (fn. 59)
In 1609 Thomas Dove, bishop of Peterborough, held 180 a. of free land, formerly owned by John Pecke, (fn. 60) and 60 a. of copyhold in Hardwick, (fn. 61) including Ward's close which had earlier belonged to Barnwell Priory. (fn. 62) In 1642 the estate was in the possession of William Gilbert. (fn. 63) Ambrose Benning, owner in 1680, was followed by the Haworth family between 1684 and 1694. The estate passed through various hands until 1770 when Lancelot Brown ('Capability' Brown) took possession of it. (fn. 64) In 1810 the earl of Hardwicke purchased it from the Revd. John Brown. (fn. 65) Upon inclosure he was allotted 236 a. in Hardwick, where William Watson was his principal tenant. (fn. 66) The estate became known as Victoria farm. In 1882 it was mortgaged under the Hardwicke Estates Act of 1881. (fn. 67) One of the mortgagees subsequently foreclosed and conveyed it to the Revd. John Hodson. The farm was again sold by mortgagees in 1912. (fn. 68)
In 1836 the largest estate in Hardwick was owned by the Revd. Edward Serocold Pearce (later Pearce-Serocold) of Cherry Hinton, who had amassed a holding of 637 a., almost half the parish, (fn. 69) most of which he had purchased in 1834 from the Royston estate. It was known as Red Brick or Wallis's farm. (fn. 70) In 1815 William Royston had purchased copyhold land of the manor of Hardwick from Maldin Wallis. (fn. 71) Of that amalgam of estates, more than 100 a. had been held in 1628 by William Adams, son of John Adams, whose family retained them until 1748. Mary Edwards who held them until 1750 was succeeded by the Ogrum family, owners in 1756. Another 70 a. had been held by Richard Pemberton in 1628, subsequently passing to the Adams family which was still in possession in 1750. At least three 17th-century holdings made up the Royston estate. (fn. 72) In addition Pearce had obtained land from the Whittet family and a Mr. Smith. (fn. 73) In 1842 Pearce-Serocold conveyed a capital messuage and lands to James Michael Foster who died before 1853. (fn. 74)
Part of the parish belonged in the Middle Ages to Toft manor. (fn. 75)
Although the name Hardwick has been taken to signify a sheep farm, (fn. 76) there is no other evidence that this branch of agriculture has ever been predominant in the economy of the parish. The difficulty of draining the heavy clay soil makes the land unsuitable for extensive sheep-farming. In the 1790s about onethird of the flock of 600 perished of sheep-rot. (fn. 77) Arable farming seems to have long been the most important occupation of the parish. In the 17th century Hardwick was especially noted for the quality of its oats. It was the principal crop of Hardwick in 1801 (fn. 78) and much of it was grown in 1968.
In 1086 Hardwick was assessed as 3 hides, 1 virgate, and 22 a. The demesne consisted of 1½ hide and 12 a. worked by 2 ploughs. The 7 villani had 4 teams, and there were 4 servi and meadow sufficient for 4 plough-teams. A free tenant held 10 a. valued at 1s. (fn. 79) There were 20 pigs on the demesne, but no sheep. (fn. 80) In 1222 (fn. 81) and 1251 (fn. 82) detailed extents were made of the bishop of Ely's manors. The former, however, omits the account of the demesne. The extent of 1251, taken at its face value, depicts Hardwick as a classic example of the 13th-century manor. There were 232 a. of arable demesne which, following the disappearance of the servi, employed only one demesne plough-team, supplemented by the customary works of the tenants. In addition there were 10 a. of meadow and 4½ a. of pasture in the Hay, later Hay Common, close to the village centre. Neither the two- nor three-field system, however, can be shown to have been established; at least seven fields or doles were mentioned. The wood called Bradeleh, probably the later Hardwick wood, contained 21½ a. The demesne stock that could be kept comprised 4 cows, a bull, 26 sheep, and a ram, but no pigs unless they were fed in the courtyard. (fn. 83) About 106 a. were held by free tenants, besides the fee held by the prioress of Swaffham (fn. 84) and the 80 a. held by Alexander the son of Henry de Essex. The largest peasant free tenement was 20 a. held by Henry le Eyr for 2s. rent and certain labour services including boonwork. Fourteen villeins held full yardlands of 20 a. and eleven had half yardlands. Their numerous dues and obligations were meticulously set down but were not of an exceptional nature. Their principal obligation was to do three week-works throughout the year, with the customary exceptions of certain festivals and holidays. Each yardlander had the right to some wood for fencing upon rendering 2 hens. (fn. 85) That was probably the origin of the right successfully maintained by the copyholders of Hardwick against Francis Hinde in 1587 to cut one 'ringe' of underwood each year from Hardwick wood upon payment of 8d., a practice which continued until inclosure. (fn. 86) There were also three cottars each with a croft and 1 a., and a few mis- cellaneous unfree tenants, one of whom was responsible for guarding the lord's wood. A few holders of parcels of other fees also owed the bishop various services. (fn. 87)
The regularity and symmetry of the picture given in 1251 may be misleading. Certainly, changes soon occurred in practice, although in theory the arrangements of 1251 continued in force until the late 15th century. (fn. 88) The manor was farmed for £28 in 1251, the main potential source of revenue being the commutation of over 3,200 week-works. (fn. 89) Although it was not expressly stated, the tenants may themselves have been farming the manorial demesne then as in 1299. (fn. 90) By the time of Bishop Fordham (1388–1425) rationalization of rents had resulted in each full villein tenement paying 17s. a year, which covered 'witepound', assized rent, food renders, commutation of works, and its share in the farming of the 232 a. of demesne at 6½d. an acre. (fn. 91) The payment for the demesne suggests that the arrangement had a long history. In 1316 each acre of Thomas of Elsworth's estate in Hardwick was valued at 1s., (fn. 92) and the sum of £17 as the combined rent of the 20 theoretical full virgates of Hardwick appears as early as 1337. (fn. 93) It is unlikely that the bishop began to farm out his demesne for a sum so much below current values.
The acceptance by the bishop of a more or less fixed rent income means that the account rolls do not entirely reflect the true economic situation of the vill. They suggest, however, a long-term decline in prosperity. The highest figure that survives for the bishop's revenue is a farm rent of 11s. 6½d. a week, making £30 a year, in 1316–17. (fn. 94) By 1337–8 it had fallen to £23 and thenceforward until the time of Bishop Fordham the only variations are due to the fluctuating profits from the court, the sale of wood, and the occasional heriot. Difficulties over the collection of the rent may be reflected in the general rise in arrears during the 14th century. Fordham was obliged to reduce the rent of a full land to 15s. on account of the poverty of the inhabitants, and by 1463 it had been further reduced to 13s. 4d. (fn. 95) Not until Edward IV's reign did the accountants fully accept the changes or relinquish the possibility of the return to a higher figure. (fn. 96) Thereafter rents remained fixed and the manorial revenue was little affected by the economic life of the village.
Three fields had been established by the early 17th century, Hatchmore field, Stockenden field, and Puttocksrow field. Closes of pasture were then frequently mentioned. (fn. 97) As elsewhere holdings were increasing in size and declining in numbers. The 25 villeins who held more than 10 a. of the manor in 1251 had been reduced to 13 copyholders by 1628. The principal tenant in 1615 was Thomas Dove, bishop of Peterborough, who had at least 240 a., and William Adams also held over 100 a. The holdings styled yardlands were no longer the simple 20 a. units of the 13th century but included a proportion of the old demesne customarily attached to them. The engrossing of estates continued and by the inclosure in 1836 about eight landowners dominated the parish. Chief among them were the Revd. Edward Serocold Pearce and the earl of Hardwicke. (fn. 98)
In the 1780s and 90s a succession of wet years damaged the farming on the heavy clay lands at Hardwick. The 70 a. of inclosed grassland afforded 'in general a very coarse and indifferent herbage'. (fn. 99) Hardwick was cited as an example of the deficiences of an uninclosed parish compared with the neighbouring inclosed parish of Childerley. The average produce per acre for wheat at Hardwick was twothirds of that obtained at Childerley, for barley and oats a half, and for peas and beans less than a half. (fn. 100) In 1801 the open fields were sown, in the traditional way, with 125 a. of wheat, 115 a. of barley, 160 a. of oats, and 63 a. of peas and beans, but also with 30 a. of clover. (fn. 101) The early 19th century saw a serious decline at Hardwick. By 1831 the population had fallen to 90. Twenty-seven of the twenty-nine adult males in the parish were engaged in farming. (fn. 102) The inclosure produced a short revival but the dependence upon agriculture remained, resulting in further decline in the late 19th century. During the 20th century soft-fruit-growing has been introduced on a large scale to add variety to the produce of the parish. Extensive orchards were planted on Hardwick farm in the south-east part of the parish, owned by the firm of Chivers Ltd. (fn. 103) During the Second World War Messrs. Pye's opened a small factory on the main road to attract women to war work. The building was afterwards used as a village hall. (fn. 104)
The settlement that grew up along the main road had little connexion with agriculture, but was probably caused by the proximity of Cambridge. In its turn the road has brought some trade to the parish, with the opening of garages and cafés.
There was no mill in Hardwick in 1251, although the jurors asserted that if there were one the bishop's tenants would owe suit to it. (fn. 105) The deficiency had been corrected by 1299 when two years' farm of the mill produced £1 10s. (fn. 106) In 1356 the windmill was sufficient but needed new sails. (fn. 107) There is no further known record of a mill at Hardwick.
The bishop of Ely had extensive judicial rights in Hardwick as part of the liberty of St. Etheldreda. In 1279 they were defined as view of frankpledge, gallows, tumbrel, return of writs, pleas of vee de naam, and warren. (fn. 108) The manor court and leet seem to have met usually once a year, though expenses were sometimes claimed for two courts. (fn. 109) The court leet of Toft with Hardwick, belonging to the honor of Clare, presumably had jurisdiction over that part of the parish which was part of the Clare manor in Toft. (fn. 110)
The rolls of the manorial court of Hardwick, shorn of the special jurisdictions attaching to the see of Ely, survive from 1603 to 1741 with gaps. (fn. 111) Courts were usually held by the steward and contain very little besides the routine business of admissions and surrenders of copyhold tenants. Records of admissions and surrenders continue until 1854. (fn. 112) In 1740 four field-reeves were appointed, (fn. 113) but there is no record of the appointment of other parish officials such as constables. The office of constable, however, survived late. Mr. M. R. Fraser was appointed last parish constable in March 1939, (fn. 114) a few months before the abolition of the office in Cambridgeshire. (fn. 115)
Parish expenditure on the poor in 1776 was £36, and in 1783–5 £40, but by 1803 it had risen to £111, out of which 10 persons were permanently and 10 occasionally relieved, besides 18 children, of whom 6 were at a school of industry. (fn. 116) In 1835 Hardwick was included in the Caxton and Arrington poor law union, (fn. 117) and in 1934 was transferred from the Caxton and Arrington R.D. to the Chesterton R.D. (fn. 118)
A church at Hardwick was recorded in 1217. (fn. 119) The benefice has since the 13th century been a rectory. (fn. 120) The advowson has belonged to the bishop of Ely throughout the recorded history of the church, which was a peculiar of the bishop, exempt from the archdeacon's jurisdiction. (fn. 121)
Before 1279 the bishop had granted the rector a house and 40 a. in Hardwick. (fn. 122) In 1615 the glebe comprised 60 a. in the open fields of Hardwick and Toft. (fn. 123) The rector also retained the tithes. In 1217 the church was taxed at 10 marks. (fn. 124) In 1254 12 marks, evidently all or nearly all of the income of the rectory, was said to be the portion of a vicar, who is not otherwise recorded. (fn. 125) The value of the rectory, assessed at 16 marks in 1291, (fn. 126) had fallen to £8 14s. 1d. by 1535. (fn. 127) In 1644 it was worth £80 a year, (fn. 128) and in 1826 the gross yearly value was £300, out of which a curate was paid £50. (fn. 129) At the inclosure in 1836 the tithes were commuted for a rent-charge of £254, and the rector was allotted 33 a. for his glebe. (fn. 130) In 1887 he also owned c. 11 a. in Toft. (fn. 131) The rector suffered heavily during the agricultural depression. The rent of the glebe fell from an earlier £60 to £30 in 1896, when the rentcharge was also reduced to £173. His necessary outgoings were then £48. (fn. 132) Substantial reapportionments of the tithe-rent-charges were made in 1935 and 1950. (fn. 133)
The glebe house suffered many periods of dilapidation, possibly owing to the frequent absence of the rectors. In 1665 it was ordered to be repaired. (fn. 134) In 1787 it was being used as 'a sort of hospital' for poor families. It was described as 'deplorable' in 1790, and was let in three tenements to paupers in 1807. In 1836 it was unfit for the residence of the incumbent, being little better than a labourer's cottage. (fn. 135) All thought of the incumbent residing in it was abandoned and its site was later known as Old Rectory Farm. A new rectory was built, nearer the village street, (fn. 136) and the incumbent was living there in 1881. (fn. 137)
There was a guild in honour of St. Mary at Hardwick in 1523. (fn. 138) In 1548 1 a. in Hardwick, given for a light in the church, was sold to William Warde and Richard Venables by the Crown. (fn. 139)
From the 14th to the mid 19th century the rectors were often but not invariably absentees. John of Thriplow was licensed for 2 years' absence in 1348. (fn. 140) A curate was mentioned in 1543. (fn. 141) Ralph Baynes, later bishop of Coventry and Lichfield and a staunch supporter of Queen Mary, was rector until 1544. (fn. 142) His successor, Nicholas Stennett, was deprived in Mary's reign for unknown reasons, but a man of the same name re-appears as rector under Elizabeth I. (fn. 143) William Middleton, rector 1585–1613, was a prominent protestant controversialist (fn. 144) and in 1593 was reported for not wearing the surplice according to the queen's ordinance. (fn. 145) He served the cure himself and was buried at Hardwick; he gave 3 or 4 a. to the parish for the maintenance of his tomb, the land to become glebe if the grave was not properly preserved. (fn. 146) The non-resident Edmund Mapletoft, a prominent supporter of Bishop Wren, was ejected in 1644, after being accused of negligence and popish practices, and a puritan successor installed. (fn. 147) The same year 12 superstitious pictures and a cross were ordered by William Dowsing to be removed and the steps to the altar levelled. (fn. 148) John Fido was ejected from the rectory in 1662. He had been part author of a work in praise of Parliament and later became a Congregationalist. (fn. 149) Non-residence continued to be common until the later 19th century. Church life was at a low ebb in the early 19th century. Only one service was held on a Sunday and communicants averaged about 7 in 1836. The curate, who was himself often resident in another parish, and the clerk conducted a Sunday school. (fn. 150) By 1896, with a resident rector, two services were held on Sundays and there had been 22 communicants at Easter. Four teachers were employed in the Sunday school and there was a parish magazine and a choir. (fn. 151) For many years after 1902 the benefice of the neighbouring and virtually uninhabited parish of Childerley was held with that of Hardwick. In 1966 the rector of Hardwick also served Toft with Caldecote. (fn. 152)
The church of ST. MARY is built largely of field stones and has a chancel, nave with north vestry and south porch, and west tower with a spire. All except the vestry, which is modern, are to a unified design of c. 1400, which incorporated one early-14th-century window, presumably from an earlier church on the site, in the south wall of the chancel. (fn. 153) The queen-post roofs are 15th-century and presumably contemporary with the walls. During the 15th century the chancel arch was rebuilt, presumably to make it larger, and a stone stair to the rood-screen was constructed in the northeast corner of the nave. The original rood-screen was presumably removed at the Reformation, for in the early 17th century another, of Jacobean design, was put in. (fn. 154) In 1783 the church was said to be in very bad repair and the spire very much out of line. (fn. 155) The church was well ventilated in 1836, but the roof was in bad repair, admitting sparrows into the body of the church during divine service. (fn. 156) From 1901 an extensive restoration was carried out by a Mr. Rickett of Abington under the direction of Detmar Blow. Everything was done 'strictly in the spirit of conservation of ancient architectural features'. Most of the funds were provided by members of Pembroke College, Cambridge. (fn. 157) In 1552 there were three bells in the tower, and a sanctus bell. (fn. 158) The church in 1965 had three bells cast in 1797. (fn. 159) In 1970 the plate included a cup and cover paten, both dated 1569. The registers date from 1564 and are virtually complete. (fn. 160)
In 1669 there was a Congregational conventicle at John Morley's house in Hardwick with a preacher, Nathaniel Ball, (fn. 161) who had been an ejected minister. (fn. 162) There were two dissenters at Hardwick in 1676, (fn. 163) and 20 Presbyterians there in 1728. (fn. 164) Houses were licensed for worship by protestant dissenters in 1739, (fn. 165) and 1805, (fn. 166) and a barn in 1826. (fn. 167) In 1783, however, there was but one family of dissenters (fn. 168) and only four persons in 1805. (fn. 169) By 1881 there was no meeting-place in Hardwick and only one nonconformist. (fn. 170) There were no nonconformists in 1897. (fn. 171)
James Forester, B.A., was licensed as schoolmaster at Hardwick by the bishop in 1580. (fn. 172) No other educational activity is recorded in the parish before 1789, (fn. 173) when there was a small dame school. The curate then thought a Sunday school would be impracticable, owing to 'the general disposition of the inhabitants'. (fn. 174) The only means of education in 1818 was a Sunday school attended by only 9 children. The curate who conducted it reported that the poor people 'seem very indifferent whether their children have the advantages of education or not'. (fn. 175) It was attended by 13 boys and girls in 1833, (fn. 176) and by 33 in 1846–7. It was supported by subscription and the children were taught free. The schoolroom was in the church. (fn. 177)
A National school, a single schoolroom with a teacher's house built on the glebe in 1871, was opened in 1872. It provided accommodation for 64 children. School pence were paid and the school received annual parliamentary grants from 1876. The average attendance rose from 24 in 1876 (fn. 178) to 40 in 1880. (fn. 179) Thereafter it declined to 21 in 1908 and 11 in 1932. By 1938 it had risen again to 22. (fn. 180) The school was still open in 1968, though under threat of closure.